• Kids walking into school with backpacks like children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley

    Teacher Appreciation

    The day that I took my husband to the hospital for surgery, we walked our children to school together. I mean, we didn’t really walk, since Shawn couldn’t do that anymore. We drove the car to the school parking lot and then we slowly made our way to the drop off point for the kids. Tommy was still in preschool, so I carried him as we took Austin to his first grade line and then Claire to her third grade line. The night before I had emailed the kids’ teachers and told them that Shawn had stage 4 cancer. “We told our children tonight,” I wrote, “and Austin didn’t seem…

  • Door of classroom like that of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    New Perspectives

    Just in Case

    About 15 minutes before the end of my last class of the day, an email was sent out. I saw it pop up on my computer, and I knew: our school was closing too. The students didn’t know yet – they were engaged in a discussion about how the government should best address the outbreak of covid-19 – but I knew that quickly they would know from other students passing by the classroom. “I have to end this early,” I said to them. “We just got word that our school is going to close tomorrow, and I want to make sure I have time to say a few things to…

  • Empty classroom like that of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Things That Suck


    I get that I’m supposed to remain calm. It’s what I said at the start of each of my classes on Thursday. “There is no need to panic,” I said, looking directly at my students. “We are going to get through this. We just need to plan.” That afternoon, my school announced that we would be shutting down next week. Spring break would follow, and we hoped to resume classes in early April. I breathed a sigh of relief. My kids’ school would soon follow with a similar announcement, and we could all just stay at home. “Remember, 99% of young people with COVID-19 recover in a few weeks,” my…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley smiles as she hugs her son
    Missing Shawn

    I Guess This Is What Healing Looks Like

    High schools are not exactly the kinds of places that allow for a lot of privacy. I eat in common spaces with other teachers and sometimes other students. I don’t have my own classroom, as we share them, so I can’t just close the door. The history teachers all share an office, and that office has an open-door policy. In short, whatever happens at my school is often public knowledge. When Shawn was sick, it was useful, in a way, that everyone knew that I was constantly on the phone with doctors. Everyone knew that my kids were often at school with me early in the morning. Everyone knew that…

  • Children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley smile standing near school

    What My Kids Need At School This Year

    School starts tomorrow. I’m so nervous that I’m having a hard time sleeping. I know I shouldn’t be. My kids go to a great school. They know most of the kids who will be in their classes. Many adults in the building know their names and all three of them seem genuinely excited to start. I know they will learn. I’m always surprised at how much math they are able to do every year. I marvel at how impressive my daughter’s writing has become and the way that my older son can rattle off science statistics that I’d have to look up on Google. I love that my 5-year-old can…

  • Graduating class of school where DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley delivered commencement address

    Marjorie’s Graduation Speech

    Welcome families, friends, teachers, and graduates.  To the class of 2019: thank you for inviting me to speak.  I’m so lucky to be here. And so are you.  You made it past this first big finish line: high school graduation.  You wrestled with the complicated history of feminism with Julie. You explored your identity through art with Michelle.  You learned about biogeochemical cycles from CA. And now, you’re getting ready to start the rest of your life. While I’m hopeful for all of you, I can’t predict your future.  I don’t know whether you’ll major in engineering or graphic design.  I don’t know who you’ll marry (or whether you’ll get…